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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3210

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - I want to speak for a few moments to the Supply Bill (No. 3) 1973. In essence, it is not unusual that at times the estimates that have been prepared by the Department of the Treasury do not meet up to expectations and it has been necessary to introduce a further Supply Bill to meet certain exigencies. In this instance $35m is needed urgently before the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is passed by the Parliament so that the necessary finance is available for the following 6-month period. I question why consideration of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is running so late. Maybe I am a little cynical when I suggest that it is being delayed deliberately so that it cannot be challenged at a time which would enable the Government to have an election with the proposed referendum to be held on 8 December. Honourable members are aware that a certain time has to be provided for election preparations. If the Appropriation Bil.1, is delayed sufficiently it will be quite impossible to have an election with the referendum on 8 December. Perhaps that is not the reason why the Appropriation Bill is being delayed, but I must question whether it is the reason.

The reason for the introduction of this Bill, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) has pointed out, is to meet the substantial increases in the rates of pay, the restructuring of departments, the creation of new departments and the increased tempo of activity. I think all honourable members will agree that there is no doubt that the increased tempo is required, but I think it is also one of the things which is causing a good deal of concern in the community. We are seeing a rapid growth of the Commonwealth Public Service. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has said that the rate of growth of the Commonwealth Public Service for 1973- 74 will be only 5 per cent. I point out that this is in excess of the growth rate of the private sector of the community, which is only approximately 3 to 3i per cent. If a 5 per cent growth rate is maintained for a period of 5 years it will mean virtually a 50 per cent increase in the size of the Commonwealth Public Service. People are worried about the increasing expenditure on Government administration and they are concerned about the fact that the Commonwealth Public Service appears to be the pace setter for fixing wages and conditions for the rest of the community. We live in an economic situation of serious inflation, and it ill behoves the Government to say that it is serious about controlling inflation when the Commonwealth Public Service is being used as a pace setter for the rest of the community. Conditions that are awarded to the Public Service flow on and have a considerable impact on outside industry. Honourable members have referred to the increased size of the Public Service. There is no area where the increase has been more dramatic than in the area of the Second Division officers. In the 13 month period from June 1972 to 30 July this year - the period for which the latest figures are available - the number of Second Division officers has increased from 876 to 1,121. In other words, in 13 months there has been an increase of 28 per cent in the number of these very highly paid officers of Commonwealth departments. If one looks at certain departments it will be seen, for example, that in the new Department of Urban and Regional Development the number of Second Division officers has increased in that period from nil to 28; the number in the Department of Minerals and Energy has increased from 11 to 25; the number in the Prime Minister's Department has increased from 25 to 38 and in the Department of Social Security the number of Second Division officers has increased from 15 to 28.

But we hear about things which are even more alarming than that performance. The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has spoken of the need to have 200 Second Division officers by the end of next year and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) speaks in terms of about 50 Second Division officers for his Department alone. If it finished at Second Division officers we might not feel so alarmed. But Parkinson's law applies and for every Second Division officer there are junior officers and there have to be stenographers. This is the reason why we have this enormous growth in expenditure and in the size of Commonwealth departments. We must question whether it is really necessary to have as many government departments as there are today. There are about 38 departments, which is an increase of ten or twelve since this Government came to office. This has created many more job opportunities. We wonder why it is necessary to have, for instance, a Department of Northern Development when most of the work seems to be done by the Department of Primary Industry, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics or by the Department of Minerals and Energy.

There is redundancy. There does appear to be a degree of extravagance and this seems to be wasteful. No doubt this is the reason why the Treasurer has found it necessary to bring in a third Appropriation Bill to meet his additional commitments. It is true that not all the expenditure is due to the increased size in the Public Service alone. The point I want to make is that this Government must become more cautious to ensure that it does not increase the impact of the public sector on the economy as a whole, as there is a limit to the amount which the private sector can take.

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